The Office of Public Witness makes a statement about the George Floyd death and use of church symbols for political purposes
From Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, Director of the Office of Public Witness PC(USA):
George Floyd was the trigger for the protests; Donald Trump is the reason for their continuation.
Let us not deceive ourselves, the murder of Mr. Floyd was the initial event which triggered the protests around the country. People are outraged and angry over the murder of this father for the sole reason that he was a Black man. He did nothing to deserve the inhumane and deadly treatment he received. It is right to be outraged and angry.
But there appears to be an added element which is a smothering ember that has been simmering for three long years. It has finally erupted in response to the policies of the current occupant of the White House. One man is responsible for the protests which are occurring around the world, President Donald Trump. People are fed up with his policies and disgraces over the past three years.
The sight of him holding a Bible in his raised right hand while standing in front of the house of God is outrageous, but it should not surprise any of us. It is not the greatest outrage which occurred that day. Rather, the violence with which peaceful protesters were greeted is the greater outrage. The threat to call out the military on young adults is a greater danger. People of ill intent have always used scripture for evil purposes. In the Bible story of the temptation of Jesus, the devil quoted scripture to lure Jesus into a spiritual trap. It is the threat to human life wherein a president of the United States can order the beating of young people simply so that he can cross the street, stand in front of a church, and sanctimoniously hold a photo op. This is the reason for the protests. The holding of families in detention centers, placing toddlers in cages which hold animals, parents going to work and being raided by ICE officers, never to return home, have called for protests. The murder of men and women of African American descent under the tyrannical rule of a law-and-order president who considers himself above the rule of law. This and so much more is what people are protesting.
It is young people who are fed up with the years this administration has projected itself as the defender of American truths and virtues while it is has demonstrated nothing virtuous or truthful. It is applaudable that young Americans absolutely refuse to remain silent in the face of brutality and injustice. I have never felt a need to proclaim the greatness of America because many of the things we take great pride in are not commendable. The world’s most armed military and the greatest and most disproportionate distribution of wealth the world has ever seen are not admirable.
But to watch young people lay in the middle of the street putting their lives on the line, to protest injustice, does deserve our admiration and support. They are coming out in greater numbers each day in most major cities of this nation: New York, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Austin, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Chicago, Raleigh, Cleveland, Durham, Fayetteville and so many more. The church must be an ally, offer prayers, support and love.
As we consider our response to the current political climate in this country, we must do everything we can to engage in the elections this November in order that the country might be the place our youth are marching to achieve.